December 27, 2011
During my career on the basketball sidelines I coached against a lot of colorful coaches. Here is a short list of the ones that come to mind when I think of that category. And you may also note that all of these guys were very, very good basketball coaches.
Jack Albers, Marion Local
It would be a mistake to believe that Coach Albers’ sideline antics interfered with his coaching. He was one of the best and his match-up zone caused confusion for any team that took on the Flyers during his tenure on the bench. But the man was “involved.” The first time I watched his team play, while scouting, I was mesmerized by Jack’s passion and I noted that most of the crowd was watching him as much as the action on the floor. That was probably because Jack was working harder than most of the players in the game. During a district tournament game years ago, we were nursing a lead late in the game and Marion Local was trying to stop the clock with a foul. My point guard dribbled the ball up the sideline past the Flyer bench. Coach Albers took the towel, which he always had folded over his shoulder, and snapped it at the ball. For a brief second the game seemed to freeze in time as we all thought, “did that just happen?” Playing Marion Local in those days was like playing five on six.
Chris Adams, Elida
Chris and I battled for many years, often twice in the same season. No one had his teams better prepared. He was another coach who’s passion for the game was evident and very few could work officials like Coach Adams. He was a bundle of nerves and rarely sat on the bench, moving up and down the sideline like a cat on a hot tin roof. It appeared that Chris was always on the verge of joining his team on a fast break and scoring the points himself. A missed call for his Bulldogs would result in Chris reacting as if he had been shot by a high caliber rifle. But even in his frenzy I could always tell Chris was in control and loving every minute of it. If ever a person was meant to coach it was Chris Adams. Following a tough tournament loss one season, Chris chased the officials off the floor. At the Elida Tip Off Tournament to open the following season, several LCC students dressed as Coach Adams and the officials and re-enacted the scene. Nobody enjoyed it as much as Chris. And when he posed for a picture with the students, he made it clear he was not only a good sport, he was going to enjoy the moment.
Joe Petrocelli, Kettering Alter
I hated playing against “Petro’s” teams. Even though he served as a mentor to me and I admired Joe’s squads, it was misery trying to compete against Alter. They were talented, well-coached, and they matched Petrocelli’s volatile passion. This Hall of Famer was the most competitive coach I ever matched wits with. There were moments when I expected him to literally burst into flames. I first got to know “Petro” after he assisted my selection to coach in a postseason game called the Midwest Cage Classic. This all-star game pitted top high school players from the all over the Midwest and was played in Dayton at UD Arena. Joe and I spent several days together as we prepared our teams for the game. I discovered that off the court, Petrocelli was one of the most charming and engaging people I ever met. He was the life of the party and had me in stitches every minute. Joe could have been a very successful standup comedian. On the day of the game I wandered down the court to talk with Joe. He had his game face on and didn’t even acknowledge me. It was game time and it didn’t matter that it was only an all-star game. Coach Petrocelli was playing to win. When my team won on a lucky, last-second heave, “Petro” was devastated, and I knew I needed to stay clear of him. The fire in Joe still burns brightly.
Bart Schroeder, Toledo Macomber
I did not coach against Schroeder, but I saw several of his teams play against Lima Senior High. He brought some great teams and players to Lima, including the phenomenal Jim Jackson. Schroeder would often bring his squad early, drop them off at Lima Senior, then run out to Orchard Hills and play a little tennis before making it back for the game. I made sure to get a seat behind the Macomber bench just because I loved to watch Schroeder work. He always had a tootsie roll pop in his mouth when he coached, and he was a nonconformist to say the least. I remember one timeout when he was so mad at his team he refused to talk to them and came up into the bleachers and sat right next to me during the entire timeout. His team looked up into the stands and appeared as helpless waifs with no direction. Schroeder screamed at them from the stands, “You guys can play your way or you can play mine, make up your minds!” Macomber went back out on the court and began playing with an intensity that took control of the game. Schroeder strolled back down to his bench, smiled and popped another tootsie roll pop into his mouth.
(To contact Bob Seggerson, email to email@example.com)